Posted in autism and covid19

Hello reality…

The world is slowly starting to settle into a new normal which sadly means the amount of posts we have shared is slowly declining.

Jobs have resumed but sadly nursery hasn’t (at least not in a William friendly way) which means we don’t have as much time as we did over the previous months were it often felt like we were spamming you with content. #sorryNOTsorry ๐Ÿ˜‚

We will still be aiming to write a minimum of one post a week however please remember that we both have jobs and a very demanding toddler ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿผ

This year has taught us so many things already that should have been obvious.

  • Hug your family a little tighter when you can. You never know when you will be able to do it again, if ever. It will have been 113 since we last saw Big nanna.
  • Appreciate your friends, who checked in on you to make sure you were ok. I tried to check in on almost everyone, especially those I knew lived alone or had health concerns. I was shocked at how few people checked in on us and it hurt a little.
  • We are not invincible! The ‘it wont get me’ attitude was astounding during the last 3 months and for the most part they were right. It wouldn’t get them until it did! It felt like this huge thing that was happening to other people but then it hits closer to home and it really shocks you, parents, grandparents, celebrities… it had no boundaries and we are super grateful that our loved ones who were affected have since made a full recovery.
  • Appreciate your neighbours and get to know them, I can honestly say that we have never made a massive effort wherever we have lived to get to know our neighbours but during lockdown we found that they were our biggest support and comfort whilst having a cheeky brew (or beer๐Ÿป) over the garden fences and wished we had done so sooner.
  • The family that works in your corner shop, the cashier at ASDA, transport workers, support workers and many more have kept this country cared for and stocked with essentials (toilet roll ๐Ÿงป) during a time when others were scared to leave their homes. Unsung heros of 2020 ๐Ÿฆธโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿฆธโ€โ™€๏ธ

I went into lockdown in panic mode, I honestly worried about my mental health and how I would cope with no professional support with William, no days spent at the office or visits with family. I cried myself to sleep about how alone I was. How each day with William felt like I was drowning and every time I got my head above water another wave would take me under. Don’t get me wrong we have had a few issues like chicken pox, ear infections and bowel problems to make matters more tense but we did it. We were strong and made the most of the time we had as a family.

Dave and I are usually like ships in the night; I work on his days off and vice versa, these past three months we have spent more time together than we have in about 5 years. We got to know each other again and did daft things like play on the playstation and go for little walks holding hands. I am so lucky to have found a man like him, blessed to have convinced him to ask me to marry him and forever thankful that he gave me William.

My forever โคโคโค

Williams nursery is closed until September, they have offered us a place at a different site until then but we don’t think it is the best option for William as he would just start adjusting to the new site only to move again, we have been trying to keep things as routined as possible for him at home but its not always possible, I have been back working from home for 2 weeks and during my first meeting he came upstairs with a chicken nugget (successfully avoided the dog) and tried to stuff it into my ear. ๐Ÿคฃ

I think is the beginning of a new normal, a new way in which we do things. Was the old way better than this? I guess only time will tell.

FYI. We saw Big Nanna on Sunday. William hadn’t forgotten her like she had feared. He acted as if we had never been away. She cried, I cried, we all cried ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Catch up with you all soon. x

Posted in Appointments, Autism Assessment

Triage

Its not a word you would usually come across in day to day life.
When I think of it I used to be reminded of the scene in Pearl Harbour in which the nurses have to mark the wounded men with lipstick.

For us triage is part one of a much bigger process, a process that has consumed our lives and will continue to do so until William receives a diagnosis.
William’s triage appointment was today… As you can understand due to the current pandemic this appointment is not face to face but instead was done over the phone.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I slept well (or even at all) last night waiting for this call, the crazy irrational thoughts kept me awake…
‘what if they decide he doesn’t need to be on the waiting list and we have to start afresh in a different sector’
‘what if they say he is the way he is because we are shit parents’

What if I don’t say the right things?’

I know it’s irrational and crazy and so does Dave or at least that’s what he told me at daft o’clock this morning when I was still awake trying to ask Dr Google what they will be asking us.
Not that it helped any way as we couldn’t find a list of questions anywhere โ“โ“โ“Not very helpful for ridiculously anxious people like me who like to be prepared for everything.
This notebook (which I just had to find and get ready at for 4am to be prepared for a 10am call) has been with me to every appointment. The writing is messy and blurred from tears. Anybody but me would find it indecipherable but I take great comfort in knowing I have it and can refer to it when needed. It is like a comfort blanket and knowing I look over it to see what meetings we have had, what questions we have asked and what answers we have and have not received makes me feel like I am a better parent than I am.

The call came in literally as the clock ticked over to 10am, I was mid wee ๐Ÿ˜ณ Appointments are never on time so I was sure this one would be the same. The woman was called Emma Gibson and she gave off good vibes if that makes sense. Pleasant to speak to, not too clinical and had a friendly tone to her voice.

So I made notes (shocking) in my little book about each question asked so that anyone reading this waiting for their triage appointment can have a rough guideline to take the anxiety off a little. Each lead to other questions so this will not be a comprehensive list.

  • When did you first notice something was wrong?
    Holy shit she went straight in there with the bullet to the head! ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ”ซ
    As many of you will know already it took a long time for us to openly admit something was wrong with our child and it wasn’t until William was after 2 that we started writing about him publicly on Facebook to share our journey. It wasn’t that we were ashamed, we were frightened, not only thing things William would struggle with but of the stigma that comes with having a learning disability.
  • Who is in your household?
  • Is Dave Williams dad?
    I had to kick Dave to make sure he didn’t pull his usual not funny trick of saying ‘as far as I’m aware’ or ‘Yes or the milkman’s’ Honestly these jokes are almost as old as the one were he says he’s shagging my sister ๐Ÿ™„
  • Do you both work? Who’s the main breadwinner? What does he do for a living?
    Insert idle chit chat here about how the current pandemic is effecting him at work.
  • Has there been any history of trauma or domestic violence that may have impacted William?
    I had just kick Dave but that doesn’t count… No of course not ๐Ÿ˜‡
  • Is there a history of autism in our family?
  • Is there a history of mental health issues?
    I explained about my lengthy battle with postnatal depression and anxiety and the medication I had been on and for how long. I’m not ashamed of it, in fact i’m proud. Although it took me a long time to seek help, I eventually did and came out the other side. Some people don’t.
  • What other agencies are involved with William?
    We then discussed things his paediatrician had put forward; blood testing and genetics testing and our next appointment.
    We discussed Lisa who liaises with the nursery in regards to his education.
  • Are social services involved?
    Eh? No!
  • What was my pregnancy like?
    We discussed how high risk it was, the lengthy induction, having an assisted labour, gestational diabetes, being in hospital longer than expected.
  • Is William on any medication?
  • Did you bond with William?
    Yes. No. Maybe? He didn’t really bond with me? He’s indifferent.
  • What was he like in meeting his milestones?
    Insert big head joke here and not sitting up until 10 months.
  • What were his first words? ๐Ÿค
  • What does him playing look like?
  • Does he make eye contact? If he does can he maintain it or is it fleeting?
  • Does he respond to his own name?
  • Does he indicate his emotions or pain with facial expressions? Let me tell you something… Justin Bonomo and Erik Seidel are amateurs compared to William when it comes to having a good poker face. I’ve let me nerd slip out again there. Justin and Erik are two of the most famous poker players in the world.
  • How does he behave with other kids at nursery?
  • Are there any children outside of nursery that he engages with?
  • What kind of support does he receive at nursery?
  • Am I OK to contact the nursery?
  • Does William recognise other peoples emotions?
  • What are Williams meltdowns like?
    Like a tornado ripping through my living room.
    Like stepping into the ring with Conor Mcgregor.
    Like trying to hold onto an oiled up contortionist.
  • What sensory issues does William suffer with?
  • What are the main indicators he is about to have a meltdown?
  • What are his eating habits like other than during meltdowns?
  • Does he show any signs of anxiety?
  • What is his sleep pattern like?
  • Are there any things he cant do in regards to his motor skills?
    Jump. Hop. Point. Wave. Clap.
  • What is he like with danger? or strangers?
    No sense of danger or recognition between familiar adults and strangers.
    That was it!
    Interrogation over.

She was happy that William had been referred to the right place and he will remain on the waiting list ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰
Relief swept over me. Tears ran down my face.

What happens next?

A letter confirming this will be sent to all parties involved.
A team of specialised autism nurses will be on hand during our wait to answer any questions we may have.

The wait is currently between 2 and 2 and a half years. We will not be contacted until William is at the top of the list.
To put things into number which you know I enjoy, there are over 900 people in front of him in Hull alone. In order to them to bring their waiting time down they must assess a minimum of 8 people per week and I know a company called Healios have stepped in to alleviate some of the pressure but they can’t carry out all the assessments as they conduct theirs via video link and not all of those waiting would benefit from such an assessment.
The actual assessment is called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and it is currently the standardised diagnostic tool for diagnosing ASD.
The ADOS process involves observations under controlled circumstances that other professionals are able to replicate.
Only trained professionals can administer the ADOS diagnostic screening, but it eliminates some of the differences of opinion otherwise possible when two different experts provide a diagnosis without following the same consensus in regards to what they should be looking for. Using the one set of clear guideline minimises the margin for misdiagnosis and errors.

When it is Williams turn for his assessment he will already be finishing his first term of his second year at school ๐Ÿ“š That is if they continue seeing people at their current rate.


November/December 2022 – What a brilliant Christmas gift that will be for us that year ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ

Posted in autism and covid19, Autism In The News, EHCP Process

EHCP Announcement

Gavin Williamson our current Secretary of State for Education has made a ‘temporary’ amendment in regards to EHCPs. In my basic understanding an EHCP is a document which outlines the needs a child has in regards to their education and the local authority must adhere to it.

This amendment in laments terms basically means that EHCPs are now pretty much null and void. It’s completely understandable that the government would do something like this to protect themselves in such unprecedented times.

Most parents will understand this amendment as it’s not reasonably possible for an EHCP to be followed to the letter when schools are closed to the majority and social distancing needs to be enforced.

As you can imagine, me being the neurotic mess I am immediately panicked… William doesn’t have his in place yet, what if we can’t get one? He can’t get into a school that will meet his needs. He will fall further and further behind… the whirlwind in my mind went on and on ๐ŸŒช

I reached out to Lisa who is the SENCO for early years to find out if and how this would affect us. Luckily new applications are still being accepted which has put my mind at ease (a little) as without one we can not apply to go to our school of choice which we are almost agreed upon. ๐Ÿคฃ

Our PCP meeting is still due to take place over email or Skype or in some other technological way ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป which is brilliant as we can get the ball rolling despite the current situation.

My main worry is the ‘temporary’ part of this announcement. When it’s safe to leave the house and get back to what will be put new normal, will EHCPs be enforceable again? Or will there be another reason to suspend them.

I worry about what’s going to happen in the future for the children with special needs. The world is only just starting to understand ASD and I worry this will set us as parents of these children back in our fight to get out children the best possible care.

That smile though…
Makes our recent sleepless nights worth every second!

William himself has had some amazing days recently. He’s spent a lot of time in the garden and engaging with our neighbours especially when food is involved ๐Ÿฒ honestly he’s like a little zombie trying to get brains ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™‚๏ธ

After the good days there is always a few bad. He’s not eating like he normally does. He doesn’t want to spend time with me… which is understandable but he doesn’t even want to spend time with Rusty ๐Ÿ• which is almost unheard of.

The nights he wont sleep and cant be settled are upon us. I feel so useless on these nights and could quite often sit and cry with him… pathetic I know.

Then the (disgusting) icing on the cake… this morning he was on top form and spread poo all over his room and himself. He was literally as happy as a pig in shit. ๐Ÿ– Then comes the trauma of having to hose him down and clean poo off his face and every other surface. It was like that scene in psycho. ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿšฟ

The a$$hole club
Bonding on the few days they have something in common

Posted in Events & Holidays

Happy Birthday William! ๐ŸŽˆ

How the hell are you three already? It feels like yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time (and then proceeded to throw up everywhere ๐Ÿคฎ)
Three years down the line and we still sneak into your room to check you are breathing, although usually we can hear you snoring from the landing now๐Ÿ˜ด
That’s 1095 days (1096 since this year was a leap year) of you. Every day filled with the joy we feel at being parents to such a loving little boy. Every one of those days teaches us something new about you and the world you creating for yourself.
You have made us become stronger parents and people than we ever thought we could be. We have learnt to fight for what is needed for you or even us as a family.

Its been a weird year. Its been a year of acceptance and education for us as parents; this time last year we were both in denial about Williams issues and we struggled to even speak to each other about it. Phrases like ‘He’s just lazy’, ‘He can hear you but he’s just ignorant’ or explaining away his missed milestones ‘Well he is very top heavy with his little bobble head’ (still true but not an excuse just a trait from the Hobman gene pool ๐Ÿคฃ)
This time last year we were preparing for the 2 year check and the questionnaire had not yet arrived… but when it did we had a moment of clarity that all parents should have and agreed to be brutally honest about what he can and cant do. We filled it in with pencil and rubbed out so many times. We both took the time off work to make sure we could go together and keep each other honest. It was hard. Those of you that have reading this since we started it will have travelled with us on that journey and felt what we felt. Cried when we cried and gotten angry when we have.
We have had meetings about meetings, meetings about plans and a few meetings which actually resulted in action.

When we moved house in summer we decided to put Williams name down for the nursery that is attached to what we thought would be his school in the future… We are yet to receive a call to offer him a place in the nursery but I can categorically say we would turn it down. His current nursery have been amazing meeting his additional needs which is why we haven’t moved him and make the dreaded public transport trek back to our old stomping ground. They have been so supportive with us as parents and helped progress us through his journey more than we could have ever hoped. They source funding and provided one on one support with Val who is amazing with William and so knowledgeable about up to date processes for children with sensory issues, speech delays and more. They’ve arranged specialists to come in and assess William for any other issues he had been facing and kept us so up to date with his progress both developmentally and socially.
They arrange quarterly meetings to discuss next steps with us and all the professionals involved with William to ensure we are all signing from the same hymn sheet ๐ŸŽถ
If any one reading this wants any information on his nursery for their children please contact us via our ‘Lets Talk!’ page.

What a difference a few hours make… I often draft my posts and come back to them if I get too emotional or life gets in the way, I won’t take back anything nice I said about nursery as its all so true HOWEVER… today william came home with 2 bite marks. NOT 1 BUT 2 OF THEM! Apparently 2 separate instances today and there have been 2 others on different days! Thats 4 different bites over the last month. I understand that children with complex needs can lash out or simply not understand what they doing especially as William has bitten me on occasion however as William should have 1 on 1 support 100% of his time there you would imagine these could have been preventable or at least the second instance today! If it’s the same child (dont care which one) then safeguarding should be in place so that supervision is on hand at all times. If William has been bitten four times how many other children have been??? I have reached out to the manager to find out what is happening and what they are putting in place to prevent these incidents going forward so I will keep you updated on that.

We are in a little bit of an appointment limbo right now, for the first few months we had multiple appointments and now we only have one in the pipeline which is 2 months away. Don’t get me wrong it is an important one as its the PCP meeting (Parent Centred Planning meeting) to discuss his future education and where best would meet his needs. We will then put steps in place to obtain an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) which will ensure he receives the support he needs when he transitions from nursery to primary school. I think we have both come to the conclusion that as things stand now that William will need to attend a specialised school who can cater to his specific needs however places in these kinds of schools are very limited as it is a massively underfunded sector. Money is often ploughed into hubs at mainstream schools which has provisions for children with additional needs however any child placed into one of these hubs is a child that thats needs to be in a specialised school and just watching the parents of children starting school this year talking about it on my support group was heart wrenching and filled me with a low burning anxiety that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. We have received reports back from speech and language and IPass confirming verbatim what they had told us after their visits to nursery. They both contain what will happen next but no dates so we are just waiting for further info like with everything else. Just like waiting for his blood tests and genetics testing… just waiting for them to hit the mat in an afternoon ๐Ÿ“ซ(our postman likes a lie in) It’s just the long wait now… sorry I mean the long wait just continues now. No confirmation as of yet that William has been accepted on to the ASD Panel list but again we are waiting for it.

Posted in Appointments, Dads Journey, PCP & TAF Meetings

TAF Meeting… Part 3

Dave here ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป I was trusted to attend a meeting solo as Marie had work commitments. This was a huge deal as she is always the one with the notebook who asks all the questions but I’m still alive so I guess I did well… ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Firsty the wife loves a good snapchat filter but never smiles in any photo. She says she has resting bitch face. I say she is just a massive poser.

Secondly but more importantly can we just address the fact that William looks cute as hell. I do love a good dickie bow on him.

This picture was taken before went out for Big Nans 90th birthday party. 90!!! When you think of a 90 year old, you would never picture Big Nan. She acts younger than us sometimes and is so full of energy. She once cut through a small tree using a saw that only had about 3 teeth!



It was a great get together but the older generation don’t seem to understand what is wrong with William and asked thing like ‘will he get better?’ which is heartbreaking because the answer is ‘no’ but at the same time he isn’t poorly so the question isn’t relevant. The understanding we have now about ASD wasn’t available to them and is still a growing knowledgebase.

FYI – the consent forms for the ASD waiting list have been signed so we are just waiting for acceptance now but will keep you updated

I won’t lie and tell you I was looking forward to a solo meeting because I really wasn’t. I was nervous and worried I would say the wrong thing or not ask the right questions. Marie is always really prepared and has a notebook full of notes from every single meeting we have had so far. True to form she had made notes for me to guide me with questions and made sure I went armed with the notebook so I could update her as soon as I left.

As the meeting was at 9am getting to the nursery with the boy in tow in a buggy was difficult. It was raining which didn’t help the public transport situation and I struggled to get on a bus and had to wait for a third bus in order to be able to fit on one… after the second one went passed I was very grateful Marie wasn’t there as she would have been what I like to call ‘a bitch’ and I mean that with love but when she is stressed she gets angry and can be mean ๐Ÿ˜ข a bit like the incredible hulk… you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

The usual crew were all in attendance and Sarah our health visitor was late as usual. Health visitors are so overworked and underpaid that I am shocked she has time to attend at all and we are always grateful.

Let’s get the bullshit out the way first. There is apparently only an 18 month wait list for the ASD panel ๐Ÿคฅ they’ve hired new staff and it may be even less…
So firstly they haven’t hired new staff… they have connected with a company called Healios who are an online based company who allow people to connect with health professionals via video link. Since they have been on board the waiting list has reduced from 3 years to 2 years and 4 months. This is based on first appointments given to parents in our online support group and their referral date so unless they are recruiting their own staff as well I can’t see it reducing that much more.
Apparently a long wait is good at Williams age as diagnosis’ can be seen as a label and they don’t like to label younger children etc etc etc… I understand that but surely it should be done before school? and as it stands now it won’t be and it worries us that his needs may not be met without it.

Going forward William will be set targets by speech and language for us all to work together on to help him develop and improve but until then we aren’t fully sure what we are aiming for.
Lisa from Early Years Development will continue to assess his funding and ensure he has the right amount of support each term at nursery.

I also gained a little insight into what will happen next with the ASD panel. This is after our long wait… we will get a large questionnaire which will ask the same medical kind of questions Marie gets asked at every new meeting about her pregnancy and labour etc and about Williams behaviours.
They will then want to speak to us about day to day life and then in a separate session will observe William. I worry that if this is online that they won’t be able to get him to cooperate and we would have to wait even longer.
In some instances a diagnosis has been given then and there which would be great for us as everyone has said all along he has autism and a severe developmental delay BUT if they can’t do that they will do a ‘watch and wait’ this puts a stopper on it all for 6 to 12 months to see if anything changes. I’m not going to sugar coat it but I would be super pissed if we waited almost 2 and a half years to be told we needed to wait another year!

The paediatrician – she wasn’t at the meeting. Thank fuck.
Basically all parties had presumed she would have referred the boy to Physiotherapy due to his movement and the way he holds himself. When I told Marie this she was raging. The woman deffinately rubbed her up the wrong way and told me off. She was not a people person and if you’re good at your job it wouldn’t matter but apparently she isn’t either! We will chase this when we get our next appointment through. She did say it may be with another paediatrician so here’s hoping ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Check out this adorable moment!

William has started sorting his toys and will collect certain types and compile them.

Here he is taking all his trains to the dog ๐Ÿ•

In our last TAF meeting it was devastating to hear that the boy was only at the age of 9-11 months developmentally and as you may have read it hit me really hard and it took a while to get my head around things and I would love to say I have done this fully but there are still some things I struggle with so I had barely slept the night before thinking there would be no improvement (we had seem some but it hard to trust ourselves if that makes sense) and then I would have to break the news to Marie.
so…
He is still in the 9 to 11 month development bracket but is slowly emerging into the up to 20 month bracket. He isn’t there yet but there had been no improvement at all in the last meeting so this to us was amazing! and it’s rare we get good news about his development so it was wonderful to hear. Even slow progress is better than no progress.

There was a lot of discussion about an EHCP and his future education but since the wife knows more about that than I do I will let her fill you in at some point.

‘You are already doing a great job at home to help’

This a quote by from Lisa from Early Years Development. It brought a tear to my eye and when Marie found out she cried happy tears.

I bet you are all totally impressed with my note taking skills, I had a great way to make sure I documented everything to be able to relay info… I had my phone recording in my pocket ๐Ÿคซ

Posted in Appointments, Autism Assessment

If you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in!

Today was THE day! Everyone said it was… everyone said it was THE appointment to get him on the ASD Panel waiting list. We were referred to the neurodevelopmental paediatrician because she would be the one to put him on that list…
I should have known better, why would this be THE day. A miserable cold day in January when none of the previous ‘THE day’ appointments had been the actual day.

Yesterday we had a tiny step for babykind but a massive leap for William๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿš€ He has been using a fork! ๐Ÿด He had actually been scooping and stabbing his own food and successfully getting it in his mouth. This amazing coordination is a huge achievement for him. He hasn’t reenacted this at home yet but he has a small toy that involves putting a disc into a slot and he has also master that. His current favourite game is putting the disc in and passing me it to fire out for him to do it all again… so basically I spend a good portion of my evenings playing fetch with my toddler ๐Ÿ˜
His other favourite pastime is holding me hostage in his room and forcing me to play round and round the garden until I can escape but we are currently on game number 1,00000003 and he still laughs before I even touch his hand which means I will keep going.

His bedtime routine hasn’t improved although our morning one has. His Nanna bought him some adorable all in ones to sleep in which means we don’t have to fully disinfect his room every morning. Don’t get me wrong he still tries to take his pants off at every opportunity… he is just like his dad in that way ๐Ÿ˜œ

He isn’t lashing out as much as he has done in the past but his routine is now settled again so i am hoping it stays that way if he encounters changes. He does need his nails cutting soon so if any of you see me with a bloody face then you can probably guess why.

Today didn’t start particularly well, both David and William had to get up much earlier than usual and neither of them handled it well. I basically hand to turn into Gny. Sgt. Hartman to get them sorted and out of the house! I’m not exactly pleasant when i’m stressed.

Traffic was horrendous and we stayed in the same spot on holderness road for 15 minutes and then to cap it off when we get on our second bus we ended up miles away because the shitting ‘movit’ app crashed. THEN google maps told us to go in the wrong direction! Needless to say both me and Dave were very stressed and took it out on each other. He shouted at me, I shouted at him and then we didn’t speak…

Arriving late is never the impression I want to give so I was very on edge when we finally arrived. The paediatrician whose name I can’t remember didn’t come across well, I don’t know if its because I was on edge but she was very condescending and told Dave off for fidgeting because it was distracting her.

She tipped out some toys for William to play with and grilled us about family history and when William reached his milestones. I couldn’t remember when he first smiled and I felt like a terrible mum. I remembered he was 10 months when he first sat up and 21 months when he was walking independently but I could not for the life of me remember when he first smiled. I remember the feeling and the fact I cried when he first looked at me and smiled but not when.
She asked about our family histories and if any one had any history of ASD and there is one person in each side of the family. Both boys and both in Williams generation. Both on our Fathers sides.

How is his medical history, how many times has he been in hospital? How many times has he had antibiotics? What caused his massive allergic reaction? what are his bowel movements like? apparently sluggish bowels are often found in children with autism.
Does he have any birthmarks? What was he like as a baby? Was I on medication when pregnant? Other than GD did I have any issues? Did I breastfeed? How was the labour? Well it was fucking hard! it was definitely no walk in the park.

Then she asked about his sleep patterns and we explained how well he slept really well until he turned two. How is his diet? well… when we can get him to eat he will eat anything and everything, even stuff he wont touch with his hands will go into his mouth. His poops often come out gift wrapped due to the amount of paper he eats. Its not worth risking a finger to get it out of his mouth. ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป

Where do I work? What do I do? Where does Dave work? what does his job entail? How many hours do we work? Who lives in our house? How does William interact with the pets? How is his recognition with people? This one is always a touchy subject as he doesn’t really behave differently towards anyone. I explained we could have walked out that room and left him with her and he wouldn’t be any different. On occasion he will show immediate delight when he sees his Big Nanna or my dad but that is it. She explained how it is fairly common for children with autism to fail to bond with people and parents will often struggle due to their feelings not been returned… well this really hit home and I started crying.
I love William with every ounce of my being but it is disheartening actually more like devastating when he doesn’t care for me in the same way. If I am holding him when he is upset he will reach for hs dad and when his dad is holding him and i got to kiss him he will pull away from away. How will he know I love him if he rarely lets me show it. When we are alone and i’m the only option he will come and snuggle with me but that isn’t because I am his Mum, it’s because I am there.

She listened to his heartbeat and all was fine, took his weight and height and she also flexed his joints, checked out his hands, feet and his birthmark. Is his skin dry? No… I had forgotten about his chicken skin. I always forget about it because to me it is normal as I had it.
Basically chicken skin is a condition called Keratosis Pilaris, it’s basically a build up of keratin in the hair follicles that causes small bumps on the skin. It is hereditary as a few of the women in my family have had it so to us it’s just the norm.

She asked us to strip him off and get him to walk the length of the corridor outside. He did it gingerly, the same way he walks anywhere. She asked us to try and get him to run but he doesn’t run. He never has… we tried to make it a game but he didn’t run just waddled a bit faster. A bit like my version of running ๐Ÿ˜‚ She did speak with us about his walking abilities and how hard things will get when he no longer fits in a stroller and where to look for help. Obviously this wasn’t what we wanted to hear as we hadn’t even thought about the fact he may not get better with his walking so it was a bit of a blow.

She agreed he has a severe developmental delay and the 9-11 months bracket he was put in before was correct. That is 2 whole years behind where he should be. He will be 3 in March which seems crazy as I feel like it was only yesterday we brought him home from the hospital. Although she also agrees that he has severe autism she will not be the one to put him on the ASD waiting list. She wants the speech and language therapist to it. What the actual fuck!!! So let’s just recap who we now know wont, haven’t or cant do it…
* Ourselves
* The Nursery
* His Key Worker
* His GP
* His Health Visitor
* The woman from the Early Years Team
* The Paediatrician from A&E
* The Community Nursing Team
* The Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician
They all agree that it is highly likely he is on the spectrum but nothing has actually been done with that knowledge. If the S&L therapist doesn’t do it then I do know who will and just in case anyone spotted me crying hysterically in the middle of anlaby road this is why.
The waiting list according to other parents waiting time for first contact is currently 867 days. That is 2 years, 4 months and 15 days. 28 and a half months. 124 weeks. 20,808 hours. 1,248,480 minutes or 74,908,800 seconds.
I can’t imagine this wait getting any smaller and the longer it takes to get us on it, the longer it takes to guarantee William the support he needs.

Once again one referral has lead to another and she wants to refer William for blood tests to rule out any underlying issue as autism can often be the symptom of something much bigger. She is also requesting genetic testing.
A genetic test can not diagnose autism or detect it early but there are 100 genes that have clear links to autism but no one mutated gene can cause it. For example there is a clear link between children missing the chromosome called 16p11.2 and autism however one 1 in 4 of those missing this have autism.
This test can give us a reason as to why him? and I know it’s selfish but I think as parents we need to know its not our fault and that we haven’t caused it somehow.

So no answers were given today and today was not THE day we get on the waiting list. We are back in three months and hopefully will feel like more parts of our journey have been completed.

On a separate note we received a message from the nursery today about an exciting new room they are creating. A sensory room! Children with needs like William’s will be able to spend their time in a special environment tailored to them. William’s Key worker Val will be based in there permanently and as William needs 100% support so will he. I am so pleased with this development. They are a fantastic nursery and i’m very lucky we chose them to care for William.

I started writing this at 7pm and it is currently 1:15 in the morning. William has been throwing up since about 8pm. Terrified me the first time as I thought he was choking on it. He only ever been sick like this once before and it was over a year go.
Currently I have a pile of sick covered clothes, cushions and blankets (both mine and his) that need to go in the wash, his pram and travel cot (I didn’t want him in his room alone if he was sick again) sat drying next to the radiator and William asleep on the sofa behind me with a temperature and a towel… Just in case.

Posted in Appointments, PCP & TAF Meetings

The ‘TAF’ Meeting Part 2

Tuesday 19th November 2019… We were going into today’s meeting much more prepared than its predecessor. We went armed with my trusty notebook full of comments, questions and observations.

‘TAF’ meetings – Team around family meetings.
They basically do as they say on the tin. Its a meeting in which the agencies involved in Williams development get together with his family to make sure we are all on the same page in order to help William as he gets older and to make sure we are all doing what is best for him.

Today’s guest appearances came from a member of the Early Years Development Team from Hull City Council. I never remember her name but she is lovely so I will make sure I find out. Sarah, our Health Visitor and Val, his key worker in nursery who specializes in SEN (special educational needs)

As always there is always good and bad news whenever we have an update…

Unfortunately all parties agreed that there had been little to no progress in regards to Williams development since he was initially granted level 2 funding. This was very disheartening even though we agreed with it ๐Ÿ’”
He has now been awarded Level 1 funding which means Val will be with him all the time at nursery. This unfortunately means he won’t be spending any time with Linda which may cause a slight regression in his behaviour due to their bond but will be for the best as she isn’t SEN trained and can’t do some of things with him that Val can.

We touched on the subject of schooling ๐Ÿซ and whether he would attended a special school, a standard mainstream school or a mainstream school with special needs provisions. Although it is too early to make a decision we are putting steps in place to ensure that no matter where he enrolls he has all the support he needs.
This includes setting up a PCP (person centered planning meeting) which is to help plan certain aspects of Williams future. Starting the EHCP (educational health and care plan) process. This is needed to be put in place to ensure William would be granted a place at whichever school would be best for him regardless of catchment areas.
A referral is also being sent to the Outreach Team that deal with Ganton & Tweendykes special schools who can help support him both at nursery and at home๐Ÿก

And now for the bad…๐Ÿ˜ข

Williams referral to the Autism Panel (this is a bit like the X-Factor panel but not as shit) mentioned in my previous post was stuck in limbo. Based on the Paediatricians letter he expected our GP to do the referral. We had called them the day after the letter was sent and they had confirmed it was received and they would process it.
BUT… It turns out that GP’s can no longer submit referrals of this kind and it can only be done by…

  • A Paediatrician (WTF! why didn’t he do it?)
  • A speech and language therapist (We are still waitingโŒš apparently we are near the top of the list, have been allocated a therapist but it won’t be until next year)
  • The Nursery

Sarah said as this has recently just changed she will speak with our GP, confirm what is happening and if nothing was in place she would call the nursery manager and ask her to put the referral though. She promised to let us know later that day.

We knew from an early age that William was struggling developmentally but today it was confirmed exactly how much of a delay there was. His current development is within the age group of 0 – 11 months. This hit us like a bus ๐ŸšŒ as neither of us imagined he was that far behind.
This doesn’t mean he can’t catch up to his real age but the wider the gap the more difficult things will become for him but we can only take each day as it comes.

Sarah called later that day as promised showing us yet again what a superstar she is โœจ
No referral was in place! She advised she wasn’t going to ask the nursery to do it… My heart sank until she explained why.
She has asked our GP to refer us back to a paediatrician who can assess William to rule out any other issues and make the referral to the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) Panel. This would prevent any further delays down the line should he undertake a Triage (this is an assessment to see if he actually needs to go to the ASD Panel at all) and they ask for this then delays his diagnosis even further (No fucking wonder there is a 2 – 3 year wait!๐Ÿ˜ก)
She will chase this up for us in a few weeks if we haven’t heard anything. I honestly couldn’t praise Sarah enough for all the support she gives us.

When Dave and I left the meeting we agreed not to talk about it until we got home to let it all sink in. We don’t drive so it was a very silent and uncomfortable bus ride.
Our discussion was so positive about what we can do for him in the future, how we will handle any obstacles and how much we love him.

But Dave wasn’t feeling positive and he was trying to be strong for me. He was devastated and broke down.
‘I just want him to be happy’ he cried.
And then I cried. Not because I thought William was going to be unhappy but because Dave was crying and he had all the same fears as me.
‘He is happy and we will keep him that way. Today’s meeting doesn’t change that
Dave has seen the same videos you guys probably have of Autistic children have meltdown in the middle of things that most people take for granted like getting a haircut (we have cut Williams hair may times including once when I was using the clippers and the guard fell off… we had a bald child for a while), going food shopping or a change to their routine etc.

We will cope with these things if they arise. We may not cope well but together we will do it.

Posted in Brief updates

My Early Birthday Gift

William has been granted 2 year funding which covered an extra day at nursery during our ‘TAF’ meeting and the nursery had agreed to 1 : 1 support before receiving funding for it. The decision to grant this still had to be approved by a panel in order for the nursery to receive the funding and if this wasn’t granted the nursery wouldn’t be able to continue with it.

The phone call came on September 12th 2019… 9 days before my 30th Birthday and it was a gift that no others could beat.

Our 2nd post

His Level 1 funding meant that he would be getting 50% of his time with Val due to how his additional hours were worked out over the year instead of term time.
I am sure Val is lovely (I hadn’t met her at this point as Dave does the drop off whilst i’m at work) but leaving his previous key worker Linda was a big adjustment for William as he had grown an attachment to her and he would continuously try to seek her out when he should have been with Val. What made it more difficult is that she spent the 1st day of the week with him. Due to his attachment to her it was decided that she would remain with him rather than moving to another room in the nursery to prevent him becoming upset when she wasn’t around

We had been asked by his nursery to have his eyesight checked due to the way in which he was making his way around the facility. This is the appointment we were referring to in our post. We had gone to the doctors to request this who told us to go to the optician… who told us they needed a referral from the doctor. We went back to our GP who said they would put an appointment across to Hull and East Yorkshire Eye Hospital.
The letter came swiftly and I called my wonderful sister Helen who works in the hospital to ask about the consultant named on his letter… she had never heard of him. I looked on the online directory and nothing specific was given about said consultant. The Doctors couldn’t have got the referral wrong! could they? surely not!

My sister continuously asked about this referral to the point I was a bit shitty with her. Maybe she just hadn’t encountered this consultant before or he was new. She couldn’t know everyone at the hospital. She pushed and pushed so Dave called into our GP to confirm it was the correct type of referral. They confirmed it was. My sister was just trying to interfere… obviously that wasn’t what she was doing but its how I felt a the time.

Helen called AGAIN and said she had asked other people if they had met this consultant and they hadn’t… I called the national ‘e-Referral Service appointment line’ just to stop her pestering us and to prove her wrong.
She was right! she usually is to be fair but at this point in time I was telling myself William was my child and I knew best and I didn’t need other people sticking their noses in. The GP had in fact referred us to a Mr Fleet a consultant in Children and adolescent services – Urology department. He specialized in Paediatric surgery.
The referral was rectified by the appointment line who were very apologetic on behalf of our GP.

The appointment came and the staff at the Eye Hospital were fantastic… because let’s face how difficult it must be to conduct an eye test if the subject can speak, wont look at you or communicate with hand gestures. They ruled out any issues with his eyes but wanted a follow up appointment in a few months time to be on the safe side. We are currently waiting for this.

Posted in Appointments, PCP & TAF Meetings

The ‘TAF’ Meeting

William was sent home from nursery with a letter inviting us to a ‘TAF Meeting’ on 5th August 2019. It was just slipped into his bag like it was nothing. What is a TAF meeting? We had no idea and no one explained it to us so obviously I turned to the internet.

The internet is a wonderful thing but also an evil thing and you shouldn’t believe everything you read from unknown sources but that didn’t stop me… phrases swam around on my laptop like. ‘child at risk’ and ‘social services involvement’
I should have just called the nursery or my health visitor and asked what the meeting would entail but my fear and anxiety stopped me. I would rather be ill informed with my head in the sand.

We are very lucky to have a great support network and my boss Debs who also happens to be my best friend (no special treatment. I promise) forced me to take the day off work to attend as initially I was going to let Dave handle it on his own which I know is really selfish of me but I wasn’t in the right mental place to hear bad news. The Hobmans, Debs and a small group of other people had slowly been dripping the idea to us that William needed extra support so that when we were finally ready to admit it to ourselves they were on hand with their knowledge which they had accumulated whilst we were busy brushing them off. We are incredibly grateful for this even though we may not have said it at the time. Without the likes of my amazing mum and friends we may not be where we are now. So please if you are starting your own journeys look at your family and friends and truly appreciate them for what they are. A support network who will sooth you when you cry, listen when you are angry and give you a life vest when you feel like you are drowning.

We went into the meeting completely unprepared and scared about what would be said and how these people would judge us. I took a notebook and made 3 notes that to this day I have no idea what I had written. Just indecipherable words.

It was after this day I made our first public post on facebook…

The post

My facebook is private and I only accept people I know well so I was shocked when I started receiving messages from people on my friends list about how they are going through the same, have concerns about their children or have been down this route and had a diagnosis etc.

I had felt so alone in what I was going through and had no idea there were so many others out there. I decided I would keep posting updates so people could follow our journey. It then stopped been because people were mean behind our back and became about reaching out to people like ourselves.